We Love It (Co)Here! Win A Free 3-Day Pass To Try Coworking

Valentine's Day Latte

It’s February, and that means Valentine’s Day is on it’s way! No, I won’t go on a rant about the silliness of this Hallmark holiday, instead, let’s focus on the spirits of the season–love and affection. I feel a lot of that for each and every one of the marvelous mobile professionals that call Cohere home!

If you’ve been meaning to give Cohere a try, but haven’t had time, energy, or just keep forgetting, we love you too…and we want you to come experience the myriad of benefits coworking will add to your life! We’ve got a great new building and lots of talented freelancers for you to rub shoulders with.

Because we think this place is pretty neat—the first three people that comment on this post will get a free 3-day pass to try it out for themselves.  Sweet, huh?  (Does not apply to current members—offer valid through Feb. 13).

Comments can be as simple as “I really want to win!” or you can tell us your entire freelancing life story. We like stories.

Current members, please tweet and post this to Facebook so your self-employed friends and neighbors will have an opportunity to win!

Image Credit: Flickr – WordRidden

Get Involved: 3 Reasons To Become A Freelancing Mentor

Coworking Mentoring

Lately, there’s been some talk among coworking space owners about how to build a community of coworkers, not just a community of desk renters.

Coworking has the ability to transform individual careers and invigorate local economies, but only when members use their talent and personality to take it to a level above desk-sharing.

Space owners and community managers can do their best to provide intentional avenues to get people talking, but at the end of the day when there’s no event scheduled the community will only thrive if members aren’t afraid to step outside their comfort zones and talk to each other without needing a staff person to help them do it.

The freelance industry is exploding. Everyday, fresh new faces join the trend, excited but completely unprepared for the challenges ahead. (Remember, that was you once!)

If you’re the slightly introverted type, and would rather plug-in and crank out work than conversate, consider this:

1. Sharing Is Caring: We all know how hard it is to be the new kid. In fact, that’s why lots of us got off the corporate merry-go-round in the first place. Coworking is supposed to be different, but once a community is established, it’s easy to fall into the same routines, slogging to our usual spot, plugging-in and checking out. Mentoring doesn’t need to be a formal process, it’s as easy as taking an interest in a new member’s profession, or asking them out to lunch. Asking about how a project’s progressing, offering to give feedback, or making a professional introduction are all easy ways to make a big impact in a fellow-coworker’s day.

2. Teaching Makes You An Expert: Have you hit a professional plateau? Feel like you’re at the top of your game, and the challenge has suddenly disappeared? Taking a less-experienced freelancer under your wing is a great way to put your treasure-trove of knowledge and experience to work. If you’ve always wanted to try consulting or public speaking, one on one mentoring is a great way to test the waters and build your reputation as an expert.

3. Help A Noob Avoid Mistakes: While there are some trials of business ownership that must be experienced, lots of mistakes could be avoided if only there was someone to tell you what to look out for. Baby freelancers are full of questions, and just dying for someone to answer them. Make yourself available. Chime in when someone’s struggling with an issue you’ve already conquered. Not only will you be helping to cultivate a more vibrant coworking community, you’ll be building major karma points as well.

Would you be willing to help a new freelancer learn the ropes? Or, if you’re new to freelancing, would you like to find a mentor? Share your thoughts in a comment!

 

Image Credit: Flickr – IK’s World Trip

 

Sharing Your Work And (Co)Working To Share

Sharing Your Work, and Coworking To Share

As you all know, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the future of coworking. Right now, coworking is a dynamic entity–a movement–that’s growing rapidly and defining itself in slightly different ways all over the world.

Although it might not feel that remarkable, each coworker makes a direct contribution to the health and future of this movement just by buying a membership, attending workshops, and telling their friends about the benefits of coworking.

The coworking movement is becoming huge, but it’s only one part of something even bigger–something we’ve talked about before called “collaborative consumption.”

This larger phenomenon has introduced new way of living, in which access is valued over ownership, experience is valued over material possessions, and “mine” becomes “ours” so everyone’s needs are met without waste.

In a word, sharing.

Coworkers know a lot about the value of sharing. We share our professional talents, time, and work space. But what about sharing outside the boundaries of our businesses and work weeks? A truly vibrant community isn’t just focused on one goal: it’s diverse, flexible, and focused on total wellness of its members, rather than just one aspect of their lives.

When a high value is placed on sharing rather than claiming territory, members of the coworking movement are better able to demonstrate their incredible worth in the community at large. Being supportive and active in sharing groups (think CSAs, co-ops, car sharing, bike lending, tool sharing, yard sharing, online media swaps, and more) outside of the space actually helps coworking take its rightful place as a vital cog in the local business ecosystem.

What kind of “outside the space” sharing have you engaged in since joining Cohere? What kinds of collaborative consumption would you like to see incorporated in the future? Share your ideas in a comment!

Image Credit: Flickr – JW_00000

Get More Out Of Coworking In The New Year

New Year's Resolutions

The New Year is looming large on the horizon, and that means it’s time to think about setting some new goals for yourself and your business. The coworking community provides a safe haven from coffee shops and human interaction you won’t get in your home office. But if you’re looking for to get more out of your membership than just a laptop station, here are some resolutions to keep in mind.

1. Engage

Whether it’s greeting your desk mates by name, participating in potlucks, and extra-curricular activities, or removing your headphones to get in on an impromptu brainstorming session for a fellow member, being engaged with the community is more than just showing up M-F. Choose a seat that’s in the center of the room, or invite someone to lunch, and you might be surprised at how much more fun coworking can be!

2. Teach

You have talent and are an expert in what you do. If you weren’t, people wouldn’t pay you to do it. Chances are, the experiences and skills you’ve gathered along the way would be eye opening to your fellow independents. Many independent professionals are naturally shy, so if the idea of standing up in front of a group of people to unleash your expertise makes you weak in the knees, you’re not alone. Realize that what you know is valuable, even if it seems simple, and if the opportunity arises to impart that knowledge to others, don’t shy away!

3. Share

Tell someone about your experience coworking and invite them to try it. Pass on a contact for a good accountant, real estate agent, or networking group. Bring in that extra loaf of banana bread, or offer to be the driver to an out of town event. Think outside the box when it comes to sharing, both professionally and personally. You just might find that problems and needs have a way of being satisfied when the community supports itself from within.

Image Credit: Flickr – nicolas.boullosa

Coworking Is Vital To A Healthy Business Ecosystem

coworking builds a healthy business ecosystem

Coworking spaces often spend time building connections with other coworking spaces or groups of technically creative people, but it’s important to remember that a coworking facility is still part of the larger, conventional business community (which happens to be struggling right now).

Being different from the common vision of an “office” or a “job” doesn’t mean that coworkers should abandon the 9 – 5ers all together. Sometimes the bridges built between coworking spaces and the larger community are the most important for a healthy business ecosystem, and coworkers should be willing to put the first stepping stones in place.

Host Classes/Workshops/Seminars That Are Open To Non-Members

Whether it’s tips from an outside tax expert or a workshop about how to network effectively, chances are that small business owners or even cubicle-dwellers could benefit from the knowledge as well. Opening up some of your functions to outside individuals is also a great way to give people a peek into everything they’re missing, and an easy way to bring in a few extra dollars of revenue.

Support Other Local Businesses

A group of dedicated, well-connected coworkers is a powerful market segment for any new business. Take the time to introduce yourself to the owners and managers of storefronts that you frequent, and be sure to mention that you’re there because you cowork nearby and you like to support local business. Not only will they become aware about a new way of working, it might even spark a discount for coworkers or create an opportunity for collaboration.

Develop A Resource Reputation

A room full of healthy, motivated, independent professionals is a dream come true for a future business owner. Instead of thumbing through a Chamber of Commerce directory or (gasp!) venturing into the wilds of Elance or Freelancer.com, a coworking space provides the business ecosystem with a rich pool of pre-approved talent. All you have to do is find a way to let your community know that this talent exists and is ready to help.

What other ways can a coworking space contribute to the health of the larger business ecosystem?

Image Credit: Flickr – Intersection Consulting

3 Ways To Cultivate A More Vibrant Coworking Community

We’ve talked a lot about all the different ways that coworking can energize your small business or keep you from looking like a hack. Coworking communities are unique collections of people that can provide just enough sun, rain, and fertilizer for your ideas to grow and bloom.

However, just like you can’t just toss a sack of seeds into the dirt and expect to get a garden, you can’t just sit in your seat with your headphones on, waiting for the community to nurture you.

1. Admit You Need Help

Most coworking communities are collections of pretty talented, organized, and all around amazing people. If you’re new to the group, you might be intimidated by all this excellence, and feel that you have to put on a capable face when inside you’re really losing it. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The wealth of knowledge your community contains is there for you to take advantage of. Be honest about your weaknesses, and make them available when other people are in need.

2. Ask What People Are Working On

When Monday morning dawns, all fresh and full of emails, it can be tempting to get plugged in and working as fast as possible. But there’s nothing nurturing or vibrant about a community where people don’t make eye-contact. Take just a minute or two to say good-morning to the room, ask what your neighbor’s working on, or share the challenges you’re trying to tackle that work week. Not only will this set a positive tone for the rest of your day, you might just uncover a partnership possibility or a new contact that will prove indispensable in the future.

3. Commence Goofing Off

You can’t spell coworking without work, and it’s true, the most important reason that people are attracted to coworking communities is because they can be more productive there. But you don’t always have to be hunched over with your headphones, oblivious to the rest of the room. The next time someone’s piping up about a problem in their business, or a funny YouTube video that’s burning a hole in their inbox, take a second to crack a smile and indulge in some human-to-human conversation. You need a break from that screen anyway :)

What are other ways that you can help improve your community and create an environment that encourages success?

Image Credit: Flickr – OakleyOriginals

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